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InCaS: Intellectual Capital Statement. Measuring intellectual capital in european small and medium sized enterprises

: Mertins, K.; Will, M.; Meyer, C.

University of Applied Sciences, Haarlem:
European Conference on Intellectual Capital, ECIC 2009. Proceedings : Held at INHolland University of Applied Sciences, Haarlem, The Netherlands, 28-29 April 2009
Haarlem, 2009
European Conference on Intellectual Capital (ECIC) <2009, Haarlem>
Fraunhofer IPK ()
intellektuelles Kapital; kmU; SME

It is a common ground, that Intellectual Capital (IC) has become the critical success factor for enterprises operating in a knowledge driven economy. Especially for European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) it is crucial to utilise and manage their intangible resources efficiently in order to obtain their competitive advantage, since they highly depend on specialised human, structural and relational capital for successful differentiation on the market. Therefore, the EU-project "InCaS: Intellectual Capital Statement - Made in Europe" has been designed to help European SMEs in detecting, analysing, managing and reporting their IC in order to strengthen their capability to quickly respond to market needs and thus, increase their competitiveness. As the main project result the "European Guideline for Intellectual Capital Statements (ICS)" has been published in November 2008 summarising the InCaS methodology that has been developed, empirically tested and enhanced during three project phases in close cooperation between IC experts, European business associations and 25 SMEs from five European countries. Aiming at harmonising the different existing national ICS methods on a practical level suitable for SMEs, the InCaS research team discovered two main opposing approaches: While a quantitative measurement of intangible assets suits the requirements of external reporting as it can be standardised and compared more easily, it shares the problems of common balance sheets: standardised indicators and quantitative data can not display the individual business model and strategy in reasonable depth. Therefore, empirical evidence shows that little value for the management and development of IC can be drawn out of those solely quantitative approaches. Qualitative methods, on the other hand, aim at assessing the strengths and weaknesses of Intellectual Capital in regard to their future value, taking the individual business model and strategy of the single organisation into account. The European ICS is an instrument to assess, develop and report an organisation's IC, to monitor critical success factors systematically, and to support strategic management decisions. Supported by the software " ICS Toolbox", the workshop-based approach of InCaS combines qualitative and quantitative methods in order to overcome the conceptual dilemma stated above. This paper will describe the InCaS method and implementation process as well as empirical findings from 50 pilot-implementations. The evaluation shows that the methodology has proven to be highly beneficial for internal management purposes allowing to derive specific actions for the well-targeted improvement of IC in the value adding processes of the company. Moreover, the standardised process and structure of the ICS report supports the communication of IC to external stakeholders, as well. If some basic quality requirements outlined in the European ICS Guideline are met, the method can also serve as a basis for comparability between different organisations. A quality assurance concept helps to ensure credibility and trustworthiness of the IC reports, especially for investors and banks.